CHICAGO – If one were to rank the Blackhawks’ top skill players, Brent Seabrook probably would fall somewhere between Nos. 10 and 20.
He’s physical and dependable on defense. That’s why he earns millions.
As for offense? Well, let’s just say he’s more equipped for snowshoeing than speed skating.
Yet on a team loaded with scorers, Seabrook is the one who keeps coming up with big goals.
The latest, greatest score by the Blackhawks’ 28-year-old defenseman arrived in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final. After the Hawks twice squandered two-goal leads against the Boston Bruins to prompt overtime, Seabrook raised his stick and ripped a shot past Tuukka Rask.
Game over. Series even. At least two more games to go, maybe three.
All thanks to an eight-year veteran who never has scored double-digit goals in a season. All thanks to a player who has scored on only 5.5 percent of his career shots – barely more than one-third than that of Jonathan Toews, who has scored on 15.2 percent of his career shots.
Apparently, Seabrook is some kind of pool-hall hustler who lays low until the playoffs.
“I’ve just been shooting the puck, to be completely honest,” Seabrook told reporters Thursday as the Hawks enjoyed a day off from practice. “You get a chance, you get a lane, and you try and put it on net, and they’ve gone in.
“I don’t think I’ve got ice in my veins or anything like that. I’m just playing a game.”
Yes, it’s just a game. But at this time of year, it happens to be a really, really important game.
Teammates have taken notice of Seabrook’s big-play ability.
If not for Seabrook, the Hawks’ season might have ended May 29. That marked Game 7 of the Western Conference semifinals, when Seabrook’s overtime blast pushed the Hawks past the Detroit Red Wings and into the conference finals against the Los Angeles Kings.
Nine games later, Hawks goaltender Corey Crawford marveled at his veteran teammate’s timing. Seabrook’s goal saved Crawford, who endured his worst game of the playoffs in Game 4 against the Bruins by allowing five goals on 33 shots.
Crawford had a perfect view as Seabrook’s shot hit the back of the net.
“I was pretty pumped,” Crawford said. “It was a bomb. He’s done that for us I don’t know how many times. It was a great shot by him.”
In doing so, Seabrook joined a select group of NHL defensemen.
Only four other blue-liners in NHL history had scored two overtime goals in the same postseason. They included Leo Reise Jr. (1950, Red Wings), Chris Chelios (1995, Hawks), Niclas Wallin (2002, Hurricanes) and Scott Niedermayer (2007, Ducks).
Reise Jr. and Niedermayer went on to win the Stanley Cup. Chelios and Wallin fell short.
In other words, Seabrook has a 50-50 shot.
Those odds would seem to increase whenever Seabrook and the Hawks go to overtime.
“It’s definitely exciting to score in an overtime game, an overtime goal,” Seabrook said. “But at the end of the day, it’s just a win. And we still need two more.”
• Northwest Herald sports columnist Tom Musick can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @tcmusick.